August 2017

What’s next for the Aerosol Pressurized Products Survey?

Nicholas Georges, Director, Scientific Affairs, CSPA

In May, the Consumer Specialty Products Association (CSPA) released its 66th annual Aerosol Pressurized Products Survey. The survey reports on the U.S. unit production of aerosols, products and containers. Its goal is to provide a comprehensive snapshot of the health of the industry, providing relevant information useful to the marketing and manufacture of finished aerosol products and their components. The CSPA Aerosol Products Division Survey Committee works hard each year to make the survey the most robust possible picture of the aerosol industry and uses the independent third-party firm, Association Research, Inc., to administer the survey, and collect and aggregate the data. The aerosol industry uses the information from the survey while meeting with regulators and legislators to emphasize the positive contribution the aerosol products industry has on the U.S. economy.

Over the years, the question has arisen as to whether the survey could be more than what’s described above. As the industry moves forward, so should its survey. Can it tell us more about the industry than it presently does? Can the survey be modified to be a vehicle to better showcase the benefits of aerosol products?

Sustainability has become a key business strategy in today’s world. We all know the benefits of the aerosol product form. Aerosols can be designed to fit a wide array of applications and deliver the right amount when it’s needed while reducing waste and spillage. Aerosol containers are hermetically sealed and hygienic, easy to store and use and recyclable.

While most consumers would recycle aerosols, many still do not realize that aerosols can and should be recycled when fully evacuated. An even bigger issue is that many municipalities don’t even know they have the capabilities to recycle empty aerosol containers. Back in 2012 and 2015, CSPA surveyed its aerosol members and found significant increases in the marketing of aerosol recyclability directly on the label. In 2016, CSPA, The Aluminum Association, the Can Manufacturers Institute and the Steel Recycling Institute sponsored a study organized by the Sustainable Packaging Coalition that found that about 70% of U.S. residents have the opportunity to recycle empty aerosol containers at the curb or at nearby recycling facilities. The aerosol pressurized products survey could incorporate elements of recycling surveys and report on the industry’s recycling efforts yearly.

Another unfortunate consumer myth is that aerosol products are not green or sustainable; however, aerosols are recognized by some third parties as such. For example, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Safer Choice program has allowed aerosol products that meet its stringent criteria by using ingredients on the program’s list display the Safer Choicer label. Aerosol manufacturers have developed product portfolios that are Greener, safer and/or sustainable. We could use this survey to report the number of aerosols recognized by other programs and more fully tell the sustainability story that consumers want to hear.

Harmonization with other surveys around the world is another area that should be explored. Each section of the world reports aerosol production; however, outside of total production, categories and subcategories vary. Even within our own survey, we report the total North American production numbers, including Canada and Mexico, but cannot take a deeper dive because we’re not collecting the same information. It would benefit the industry greatly to be able to see the trends around the world in each subcategory so that companies can prepare for growth.

Plastic aerosol containers are an exciting new option in the toolbox for manufacturers, formulators and marketers to use and extend current product portfolios. Plastic containers potentially open aerosols to new product lines never seen before because the plastics can handle chemicals that would corrode metal containers. We’re starting to see plastic aerosols on store shelves, so the data for these products should start appearing in our survey.

CSPA would like to know your thoughts on our aerosol survey and how it can better meet your needs. I’d appreciate any feedback on the current survey, the topics presented here for future surveys and if there are other areas we should consider. Email me at [email protected]